5 Ways out of everyday Depression.

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10 Basic Salves for Burn-out & Everyday Depression.

Elephant Reference Manual: 5 Surefire Ways out of Everyday Depression.

“Sometimes you climb out of bed in the morning and you think, I’m not going to make it, but you laugh inside—remembering all the times you’ve felt that way.” ~ Bukowski

I have experience with depression. So do you. We all do. It’s human.

It’s been a part of the human condition for all time—which is good, because folks like the Buddha and Jesus and every great realized human being ever has gone through it, and found her or his way out of it.

(I’m not talking about clinical depression, here).

5 Obvious, Quick, Simple, Easy Ways out of Depression (That we Fail to Think of When We’re Depressed).

1. Anything electronic—unplug it. Video games, instagram, surfing the web—anything too focus-oriented, repetitive, and mildly pleasurable keeps us anchored to our mindless churning beneath the waves.

2. Get outside. Light, fresh air—is the hope, the outlet, the gap, the pleasure that comes with tearing open our cocoon.

3. Touch in with a living sentient being’s heart. See someone. Hug a dog. Talk with community—what’s getting us down now, told as a story, will get us out of what’s getting us down, now. And it usually makes for a good story, too, if only because it’s real.

4. Music. Dance. Blues. Hard rock. Depends on your mood. Something we have to dance a little to. Move.

5. Most importantly: we can avoid the things we think will give us pleasure but know, from experience, will not—sex, porn, picking zits, video games, food we’re not hungry for, ice cream, watching too much TV, whatever it is—go the other direction and…


Remember to breathe. It’s that simple. We remember gratitude, the gift of reclaimed perspective. We remember to eat real food, hug like we mean it, drink good tea or coffee, comb our hair, exercise—the basics. The basics that, when we’re lost in the cool fog of our depression, seem out of reach.

Open that heart, clear that mind. We are not a machine—we are a poem.


Bonus: “Try helping others. Volunteer at a hospital, a soup kitchen, spend a day talking to homeless people and listen to their stories even. Any time you start helping others, and begin to realise that without your help these people will be worse off, your life gets purpose very quickly.” ~ via Reddit

Irrelephant back story (feel free to skip): Depression seems to come from somewhere. But, really, it comes from our inability not to roll with the waves, not the waves themselves.

Today’s waves: elephantjournal.com was down. The experience of having one’s site down is something unfamiliar for most of us who deal in physical things. It’s a sudden experience of a modest, limited, but cold and toxic death.

The gains of a month, evaporating in hours. My friend and webby Colin saved us, heroically sacrificing most of his Friday night out at a Holiday Party to get our site back up (he’s in the UK, eight-or-so hours ahead).

I’m the founder of elephant. Having your site down is like being out of business, like having your product recalled, like having your house burn down—only not nearly so permanent. I know, rationally, it’ll come back. The rational side of me asked for help and asked you, our readers to find us on tumblr and pinterest and twitter and facebook…but still, our reader count—the way we know we’re one of the bigger web sites in the US, bigger than your favorite personal blog by a factor of 10 or 100 or 1000 or 10,000—was imploding by the minute. Folks from all over the world were coming to our site to find…nothing. And, leave.

So the rational side of me did what I could—emails, tweets, reaching out, phoning our service provider twice, text, keeping the ball rolling and folks connecting. The irrational side of me, however, just committed seppeku again and again. At hour four, I tried to take a bath and read Raise the Bar, a re-inspiring book by one of the few non-sell outs in my world. But the water came out too cool.

So, shivering, 230, the day nearly gone, I biked to the climbing gym, feeling dead inside, weak, tired, sad, defeated, dark. Depression.


My life’s daily schedule fills up fast, sometimes, and I get claustrophic, and moody, and I don’t have time to eat, and I’m late because every meeting runs late, and yet I get the blame, and I don’t have time to exercise, or shop for groceries, or walk Red enough, and then…

…I just collapse at the end of the day.

Sound familiar, anyone? And I don’t even have children to care for in that mix, yet.

Our days require some space in them, some movement—just as our mind does.

So when you’re busy, speedy, grumpy, hopped up or wiped out…remember to give your mind space, and your heart space. Breathe. Don’t fill gaps with texting or Instagram. Get outside. Green living things will bring you back.


Relephant Bonus:

10 Basic Salves for Burn-out & Everyday Depression.

The Simple Buddhist Trick to being Happy.

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thom Mar 10, 2019 7:31am

Please don’t devalue the word depression.

Doing this makes it difficult for people that actually do suffer from depression…
REAL depression to be understood…

You could have used…
Feeling blue.
Feeling dejected.
Feeling discouraged.
In low spirits.
In the dumps.
In the doldrums.

You have a wealth of words and phrases to describe being out of sorts…

Please don’t use the word “Depression” for anything other than actual Depression.

    Alice DeRosa Mar 10, 2019 7:42am

    I agree clinical depression is very different from say feeling blue or melancholy .

    Joe Cyr Mar 10, 2019 1:28pm


    I appreciate what you are saying, but I think Waylon made a solid effort to not mistake his topic with clinical depression. He called it Everyday Depression in the title and added this line to the body: “I’m not talking about clinical depression, here.”
    As a fellow Elephant Journal writer, I hope to put similar articles out into the world to be of benefit. I will take your comments into consideration and try to be clear in my articles so as to avoid confusion. Having said that, not everyone is going to read my message and understand the lesson as I have presented it.
    I don’t believe Waylon devalued the word depression, I think you were are coming from a mindset where you are expecting it to be devalued. Take care Thom and thank you for presenting your thoughts to the world. It takes courage to do that. Best regards.

Alice DeRosa Mar 10, 2019 7:24am

These are great tips , especially avoiding television in the morning. I noticed a big difference in how I feel when I watch and read uplifting material that is why I love Elephant Journal. I know I have to be informed with what is going on in the world, but I don’t need to ruminate on the negativity. Your advice about helping others is priceless because when you feel like you are part of the solution it lifts you up and others. Thank you again for such an amazing article.

anonymous Mar 15, 2015 4:09pm

Great tips if you are suffering from moodiness or light sadness. And also helpful in the state of recovery. But quite useless in a REAL depressive episode where you aren't even able to get up, not talking about finding the energy to unplug anything. I was even paralized once, try to breathe that away.

    Waylon Lewis Mar 18, 2019 10:17am

    And I make that distinction in the article, twice. Once in the headline. Depression, from a Buddhist point of view, is a human experience we all have in common.

    That point of view has its own merit, just as the medical or clinical definition does–and again, I (and you) make that distinction clearly.

anonymous Jan 23, 2015 10:57am

Nice article but I really don't like how you use the word depression. Everyday depression can be described as feeling low or being on the darker side of life or your moods. I have a personal experience of the loss of musclework, memory and more that goes with severe depression and I feel it is way to often mistaken for everyday depression. When you don't understand words and your feet don't move, taking a walk outside is not a viable advise. Thank you for listening and keep cheering people on in life 🙂

anonymous Dec 28, 2014 1:00am

This article reads like a breath of fresh air for me. I’ve battled depression my entire life. Clinical or otherwise, and for a variety of other reasons, medication is absolutely a last ditch option for me. These suggestions are unlike any I’ve ever heard before and I’m going to give them an honest try. Thank you doesn’t begin to cover it. Xoxo-bee

anonymous Aug 18, 2014 11:37am

1. Anything electronic—unplug it. Video games, instagram, surfing the web—anything too focus-oriented, repetitive, and mildly pleasurable keeps us anchored to our mindless churning beneath the waves.

R. Really? I love video games. When depression hit me, I wouldn't, couldn't play. My family would have been ecstatic to come home to find me playing a video game. Instagram? You have to be living life to have photos to post on instagram… I'm so confused.

2. Get outside. Light, fresh air—is the hope, the outlet, the gap, the pleasure that comes with tearing open our cocoon.

R. I went outside. A lot. I went outside to escape family and friends who were inside. I didn't go outside to connect with nature, I did it to escape any real connection with the living. I could not see the forest for the trees. The hummingbirds that I love so much were invisible to me.

3. Touch in with a living sentient being’s heart. See someone. Hug a dog. Talk with community—what’s getting us down now, told as a story, will get us out of what’s getting us down, now. And it usually makes for a good story, too, if only because it’s real.

R. I had (still have) Three of the most wonderful dogs on the planet who adore me, are wonderful, loving, kind, obedient, I could go on. They loved me, I told them I loved them, and I tried. I was lost. I talked about how I felt with other people who felt the way I did. When you're lost you're lost, when you're empty, you're empty. Not too many people want to hear that story and telling it does NOT make it better, fill the void, shine a light on your path or any of the things you're implying it does. That's preposterous.

4. Music. Dance. Blues. Hard rock. Depends on your mood. Something we have to dance a little to. Move.

R. This is one of the most interesting on the list. Music fueled my depression. It was the soundtrack to my loss. It was (as it always is) an integral part of what was going on. One of the biggest steps to climbing out of the chasm of darkness was changing the music I was listening to. And no, it wasn't 'death metal'. I can listen to the same music now with love, and I smile! It's amazing what a difference a healthy mind makes.

5. Most importantly: we can avoid the things we think will give us pleasure but know, from experience, will not—sex, porn, picking zits, video games, food we’re not hungry for, ice cream, watching too much TV, whatever it is—go the other direction and…

Touch does help, if that leads to sex with the person who is your life partner, well that's awesome! If someone could have gotten me to eat ice cream, it would have been a blessing to my 89 lb frame.

Your list reads as if perhaps you had a bad day, not two years lost to the black abyss of depression. The abyss where nothing makes sense, no love is found, no light gets in, there is nothing divine, I am thankful that I have a partner who sat with me in the dark, for days while I cried. Who loved me anyway. Who never walked away. That's what we need. Then we need to seek help, professional help. If we're not comfortable with the first person we talk to, move on and try again.

This is the most misleading list. People who are really suffering from depression, question their reason for existing. I'm here to tell you it's there; that reason is there. I found it again. I'm so happy and thankful I did. I made through to the other side and it wasn't because of anything on this list!


    anonymous Dec 28, 2014 11:23am

    1) some people use gaming as an escape; a way to stick their head in the sand and ignore what they're feeling. (Very similar to abusing alcohol) Too much of this, and one never lifts the fog. They sit in it and it festers and grows. I have personally witnessed this.
    2) Try going outside with different motivation: tell yourself you're going to go for a walk until you see something beautiful. You have to TRY to change your perspective.
    3) Isolation is the scariest part of real depression to those that love the person suffering from it. What this part suggests may not instantly"cure" you, but it’s exhibiting an effort to overcome. Keep at it and eventually you will find joy in interactions. Giving into depression and isolating has never relieved anyone of it.
    4) I understand what you're saying. I, too, used music to accompany my misery. When you get sick and tired of feeling sick and tired, it's time to change your soundtrack! Listening to [sad, whiny college alt rock] on a loop and feeling melancholic wasn't helping me. Putting on [Silly songs from the 90s that I grew up with, laughed while I sang along and made me wanna move a little], EVEN WHEN I DIDN'T THINK I WANTED TO, eventually changed my brain waves. [Please insert music, bands that relate to your experience.]
    5) I can't be certain, but I think this pertains to people who use these things without real joy or overuse them. Having sex to make yourself feel better isn't healthy and only "works" in the moment. What do you do to feel better the other 23 and a half hours? 😉 Also, most men are unable to engage in sexual behaviors when severely depressed. And many, many people abuse food as a substance. Gaining weight, feeling bloated, and filling yourself with empty calories will only worsen your depression. Again, I have witnessed this happen with someone very close to me.

    We each experience this human existence differently. Depression affects everyone in various ways. No one form is better or worse than another. My depression was very different in some ways and similar in others to my loved one's. Our depressive experiences lasted much longer than, say, my mother's did when she divorced after 25 yrs. My loved one is still going through his, and it's killing those of us who truly love and care about him. I found this article to be very accurate and helpful. Maybe it won't apply to everyone who suffers. But it was like someone had been watching our lives and listening to our talks and wrote this post based on the findings.

anonymous Jun 10, 2014 6:01am

1. seriously follow Jesus. The 5 above are great.Basicly they are mentioned by Jesus in other ways and practices that he himself demonstrated.2.prayer
I do believe in chemical imbalances in the brain,thyroid,and other hormone producing organs in our body though.My mother lived with that and took medication and it helped her.God is with our doctors and scientists too.

Get a thorough blood workup before they start meds.

anonymous Jun 4, 2014 6:32am

This reads like it was written by someone who has never truly been depressed.

anonymous Dec 17, 2013 5:11pm

The guy in the picture looks a little like Alec Baldwin.

anonymous Dec 17, 2013 4:19pm

Great article. I have to say though, sometimes staying "plugged in" is what has helped me the most. A search for depression on Pinterest or an article on elephant journal have helped me to stay connected with others who are suffering from this horrible disease. Sometimes you just need to get out of your Own head and realize you're not alone.

    Waylon Lewis Mar 18, 2019 11:18am

    Great point. I think what’s tough when you’re down–is being on a site like Facebook or Instagram that is deliberately programmed to give you the dopamine hits that keep you plugged in and on, for far too long. ~ Waylon

anonymous Nov 13, 2013 4:25pm

I need to say I find this article a bit offensive. Perhaps these tools can help people that do not experience clinical depression (or even help to a certain degree those that have clinical depression too) but its such a gross oversimplification of an actual disease. Would you tell someone with cancer the same suggestions and imply that their cancer will go away if they follow them? I am a yogini, a meditator, and someone who has suffered from clinical depression. I tried everything natural to help alleviate the depression and although it helped to a degree, I still suffered. It gets tiring to hear that depression is all in your head. To me, that comes from someone who has never experienced clinical depression. I finally received help when I started on medications. I did not wish to go that route but I tried everything else. So although I do think it is important to bring light on the topic of depression, I do think its a disservice to give a simple list, implying that it will go away by just getting off your arse. Believe me, depressed people beat themselves up for suffering from this disease. It only makes things worse when others tell them its in their head.

    anonymous Nov 13, 2013 8:17pm

    Amen Paula.. couldnt have said it better myself……

anonymous Nov 13, 2013 4:16pm

Since when has there been a kind of depression that is not clinical?

As someone who has experienced Clinical Depression, I find this article to be very I nsulting and disrespectful. I'm so fed up of hearing that if you do x / y / z your depression will lift. Like hell it will. It's an ongoing battle that sometimes needs medication, not a walk outside or a week without electronics.

    anonymous Jul 12, 2014 4:57pm

    Because there is? Hence why it's differentiated by being referred to as "non-clinical" so that people like yourself don't get offended I presume. "Non-clinical" happens to everyone, people experience bouts of shitty shitty moods for one or more reasons, for varying periods of time and varying intensities. But generally not to a degree that may require antidepressants. The word 'depressed' shouldn't be reserved just for those who unfortunately do have to take medication for it, as though it's some sort of special club (again, hence the differentiation between clinical/non clinical). Anyone can be depressed. The REASONS as to why (including chemical imbalances, etc) differ. And no, this isn't insensitive. Everyone has a subjective experience with depression so it's not only unfair to compare (mine's worse than yours) as this tends to invalidate one's experiences/feelings and suggests they have nothing to fret about 'Hey someone else clearly has it worse than me, I guess now I have no right to feel the way I do'), BUT it also makes it seem like we're all competing to see who can feel the worst. This isn't a competition. For those prone to occasional bouts of it, yes taking a walk outside regularly can help. Unplugging yourself from everyone for an afternoon can help. Spending time on a hobby you love for a few hours can help. It's all relative. Just because none of the aforementioned methods helped you personally doesn't mean they won't help someone else.

anonymous Sep 16, 2013 11:40am

Thank you for sharing!! I have my own business and am working to stay positive but things started slowing didn’t outta nowhere since August. I’m really needing things to pick back up TODAY!! So I have been depressed some, trying to chant instead of focus on what I don’t have,, trying to meditate instead of stress out or worry. It is a challenge but today I have food to eat, 2 healthy, beautiful children, good supportive, encouraging friends, a nice place to live, and the opportunity to be busy again with work. Counting my blessings instead of complaining.

It will all be ok!!

anonymous Aug 19, 2013 10:24pm

Thank you

anonymous Aug 19, 2013 7:05pm

sex absolutely does help.

anonymous Aug 2, 2013 11:45am

clean your mind. depression is only in the mind. like senses, they are transient and made up, manufactured only by yourself. in actuality they aren't even reality. you realize this only by let them go. meditation works. reality is bliss.

anonymous Mar 8, 2013 2:57pm

[…] few years ago the FDA approved surgical Vagus Nerve Stimulation (VNS) as a treatment for severe depression. The VNS device is surgically implanted into the base of the neck where it stimulates the vagus […]

anonymous Feb 25, 2013 5:27am

[…] have a friend who lives in a perpetual state of mild depression because he feels so affected by the misfortune in the lives of others and powerless to help them. […]

anonymous Jan 2, 2013 4:38pm

[…] on cold days. Take a walk or a hike every day. Getting outside and moving your body is a natural antidepressant. This increases your oxygen and […]

anonymous Dec 27, 2012 11:13am

[…] no conscious decision, millions of people can begin a season of depression when December rolls around. It could be the shorter, darker days, the pressure of parties, finding […]

anonymous Dec 27, 2012 6:23am

[…] when I walked into a local yoga studio four years ago while in the midst of suffering from a deep depression, I was desperate for something other than a workout. I felt like a collapsed house of cards. I knew […]

anonymous Dec 20, 2012 9:55pm

[…] When life has got me down, […]

anonymous Dec 20, 2012 3:34am

[…] […]

anonymous Dec 18, 2012 12:51pm

agree with all of it but avoid sex? nah! a surefire way to lift the mood!

anonymous Dec 17, 2012 8:26am

Loved your article, thanks, Waylon, these reminders comes in handy.
I would also add journaling to the list.

anonymous Dec 17, 2012 8:11am

I know this topic well, and I feel empathy for those above that find the suggestions trite. But I can say that is you just start moving, just a little bit, you can see the light ahead….

anonymous Dec 16, 2012 11:46pm

Where do we get the music to dance to if we unplug everything electronic?

anonymous Dec 16, 2012 8:27pm

I’m glad you wrote this. People get awfully prickly when we discuss something so important and personal, and I’m sorry if the prickles got to you. I’m still glad you wrote it – thanks… 🙂

anonymous Dec 15, 2012 12:56pm

Waylon: would like to share this, and not seeing the usual sharing (via email) links at top of page? BTW, as someone who also has personal experience with depression, both clinical and the 'usual' garden variety, props to you for shining light on topic that is far too often "taboo". Namaste! CAL

anonymous Dec 14, 2012 3:50pm

You had it nicely in part one. As for part two, and for all the other pain and suffering in the world today; breathe.

    anonymous Dec 14, 2012 3:52pm

    Amen. We posted a few articles re the shooting this morning…Kate's is amazing. Of course, we had to wait to post them, because the site was down and out, and then so was I. Thanks, friend!

    Comments via FB:

    Pamela Lawrence-moore liked new post

    Anne Bell Jacks Not 'everyone' suffers from depression. Yes, everyone feels sadness but not true clinical depression. These are all fabulous ways of feeling better when you're having some bad days. But none of these things put a dent on true depression.

    Maryka Hodson Napier Love it! So damn true! Especially the dog part!

    elephantjournal.com Anne, semantics. Depression is something we all experience, to varying degrees. If truly clinical, yes, drugs and doctors may be necessary—but we don't believe everything conventional medicine tells us is solid about us, and profitable for them. The Buddha taught about depression 2,500 years ago. It is part of the human experience.

    And only recently has become something solid and profitable. That's not to say it's not serious, and needs attention. Click the links…one is from an experienced doctor re depression.

      anonymous Dec 14, 2012 4:15pm

      Randolph Roeder Semantics ? That's a poor choice of words.
      20 minutes ago · Edited · Like · 1
      Anne Bell Jacks I've been seeing many for over a year now. You know not of what you speak.
      21 minutes ago · Like · 1
      Anne Bell Jacks Using acupuncture, herbal supplements, yoga in addition to traditional medicine. I have 4 dogs, walk several hours through beautiful trails daily. No one can say I don't try to break this horrific cycle. To say, to even pose the the possibility that I have made this 'my choice' is ignorant and more so, simply cruel.
      15 minutes ago · Like
      Pamela Lawrence-moore sitting zazen really helps with my anxiety , ptsd and what they call great depression. i can go on. this is what i call the benefits of different sytles of meditation. maybe not for everyone, but works for this old soul.
      10 minutes ago · Unlike · 1
      Anne Bell Jacks I "liked" your page. Will "unlike" once I press post.
      8 minutes ago · Like
      elephantjournal.com Randolph, when I say depression, I'm talking about something we all go through. When Anne talks about depression, she seems to mean, primarily, clinical depression. We're talking about different things, using the same word. That's semantics, no?
      a few seconds ago · Like
      elephantjournal.com Anne Bell Jacks, if you unlike everything you ever have a respectful debate with, you'll only be left with the MSNBCs and Fox News of the world: media you always agree with. Sorry to hear.

        anonymous Dec 14, 2012 4:17pm

        Anne, for the third time, we're talking about different things. I wasn't talking about you. Each to her or his own–I respect that you know and respect your own experience and don't need to be told what to do.

        That said, I'm talking about something we all go through, and I'd appreciate it if you don't tell me about my experience, or right to work with it or offer what I've found to be helpful. Each to her or his own.

        anonymous Dec 17, 2012 7:23am

        Hmmmm …. some of the actual back & forth that occurred was left out here (above) ….. I'll suppose this was due to the site having gone down then getting rescued and the processes thereof ….. oui/non ?

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Waylon Lewis

Waylon Lewis, founder of Elephant Journal & host of Walk the Talk Show with Waylon Lewis, is a 1st generation American Buddhist “Dharma Brat.” Voted #1 in U.S. on twitter for #green two years running, Changemaker & Eco Ambassador by Treehugger, Green Hero by Discovery’s Planet Green, Best (!) Shameless Self-Promoter at Westword’s Web Awards, Prominent Buddhist by Shambhala Sun, & 100 Most Influential People in Health & Fitness 2011 by “Greatist”, Waylon is a mediocre climber, lazy yogi, 365-day bicycle commuter & best friend to Redford (his rescue hound). His aim: to bring the good news re: “the mindful life” beyond the choir & to all those who didn’t know they gave a care. elephantjournal.com | His first book, Things I would like to do with You, touches on modern relationships from a Buddhist point of view. His dream of 9 years, the Elephant “Ecosystem” will find a way to pay 1,000s of writers a month, helping reverse the tide of low-quality, unpaid writing & reading for free online.